National STAR Program Director, Jake Deutmeyer, and Max Neumeyer of Ground Up Consulting attended the Soil Health in the West Conference in St. George, Utah. The conference was organized by UDAF (Utah Department of Agriculture and Food), who have been leading the initiative to bring STAR to Utah.  

The events began on February 6th with a pre-conference workshop that allowed attendees to get in-field learning either on the beginning principles of soil health (led by NRCS Staff) or more specifically on how effective grazing management can bring unhealthy soils back to life in the desert (led by Alejandro Carrillo). Alejandro, a fourth-generation rancher in the Chihuahuan desert, was also a keynote speaker and a crowd favorite amongst ranchers looking to gain from his shared experience of regenerating soil with minimal rainfall. STAR is working on inclusion of grazing forms into the STAR field forms, and the “mob grazing” techniques that Alejandro promotes will be an important consideration to help improve water infiltration of rangeland in the West.   

Presentations continued throughout February 7-8 with STAR presenting an overview of  STAR and UDAF’s AgVIP alongside Katie Slebodnik of UDAF. Other sessions featured potential Utah STAR collaborators like Utah State University, NRCS, UDAF, and several Utah farmers and ranchers. Many showcased successes in trials of cover crops, no-till and strip till, rotational grazing, and ways to approach change in the Mountain West. STAR had many good conversations at their exhibit booth and at the farm-to-table dinner on Wednesday evening.  

Published On: February 9, 2024Categories: Homepage, Latest News

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